Baby Signing is something I did with M, but never got beyond <<milk>>. Not that what she did earn wasn’t incredibly useful; if you’re going to learn one sign as a baby, it’s probably going to be <<milk>> (particularly if you’re breastfed, because you’re less likely to request milk at random times if you’re bottle fed. Learning that sign allowed M to ask to nurse in a polite manner, as often older babies and toddlers start asking by yanking at your top, or sticking their face in your chest. It also allowed her to ask for milk when she wasn’t with me, such as at nursery or with Tom. She would use the same sign for breast and bottle, though interestingly not for milk in a cup. I can remember the staff telling me when they were trying to get her onto a sippy cup when she was a year old, she’d drink happily until she saw the other babies getting a bottle, the frantically start signing <<milk>> until she got a bottle.
E has just started picking it up. I’ve tried to be consistent at a few different signs this time round; <<milk>>, <<food>>, <<water>>, <<more>> and <<up>> for carries. I also throw in fun ones occasionally; <<cat>>, <<bunny>>, <<butterfly>>, <<shower>>, <<banana>>, <<ball>>, but I don’t expect her to pick up on these.
At the moment, E will sign <<milk>>. She signs it when she wants to nurse (sometimes), when she is nursing (more often) or when she is not with me but would quite like me, either for cuddles or nursing. In her mind, milk = mummy. Fair enough! I don’t know yet whether she has learned that <<milk>> is also in the Elmer cup. We tell her this, and sign it, but I’m not sure she believes us. Milk = mummy = boobs, not cold hard plastic!
Baby signing is fab. I firmly believed it helped M become the confident, early talker that she was and helped smooth over those difficult months where lack of communication can so often lead to frustrations and tantrums. By learning to communicate and be understood at such a young age, it encourages language skills earlier. Plus, having a 9 month old ask you for a specific request is just awesome!